How to Get Hold of the German Word Order

How to get hold of the German word order

The hardest part of learning the German language is the German word order. The German learners find this word order as the most complex of all problems in the German language. It is like an endless pit. While the language is easy in terms of its pronunciation, its vocabulary and the grammar; the sentence structure is a tough thing to get hold of. For that, you need to learn the word order that that language entails.

To help you with the word order, we have four essential tips that you must follow:

Tip #1: Learn the Conjunctions that Change the Word Order

If you think you know everything about German subordinating conjunctions, think again. These subordinating conjunctions not only connect the main clause to the subordinate clause, but they also affect the word order greatly. They shift the verb that was at the beginning of the clause towards the end, thus making the sentence look confusing. Coordinating conjunctions do not affect the word order in any case. These are denn, aber, oder and sondern. So you need to know as to which clauses change the word order and which ones don’t.

Tip #2: Perfect the Art of Holding Verbs

German is not said to be a confusing language randomly. Its grammar is what makes you roll your eyes. But don’t worry; we have the perfect solution to this complexity pertaining to the German language.

The Case of Modal Verbs

Modal verbs are helping verbs that are widely used in the German language. The infinitive “en” can be spotted in almost every verb that we see. So here’s what you need to do: if you use a modal verb, the second verb in the sentence becomes an infinitive. This infinitive is what you need to place at the end of the sentence.

Here’s an example:

Müssen wir helfen mit seinem blöden Umzug? This is a wrong sentence formation as the infinitive helfen is coming in the middle of the sentence. Here’s the right format of the sentence:

Müssen wir ihm mit seinem blöden Umzug nochmal helfen? Here the modal verb is in the beginning while the infinitive rests at the end of the sentence.

The Case of Relative Clauses

Remember that in every relative clause, the verb takes its position towards the end of the sentence. When you have relative clauses containing two verbs, the verb at the end of the sentence will be considered as the first verb. The other verb, however, remains in its original position and will not change.

Tip #3: Master the Sentence Inversion

Sentence inversion can occur in a number of cases, causing confusion. But to make the correct sentence inversion, make sure you have full knowledge about the temporal adverbs and prepositional phrases. Temporal adverbs are the adverbs that provide answers to the question “when”.  Prepositional phrases are a group of words that work as a unified part of speech, lacking a subject or a verb.

Dealing with these can be tough until you have the right tip by your side. So when you have either a temporal adverb or a prepositional phrase at the beginning of a sentence, the verb takes the second position. Putting an emphasis on an object is another part that might require a sentence inversion. So make the right use of the verbs, with the correct placing.

Tip #4: Place Adverbs in the Correct Order

What is the basic rule of a sentence in German? If you take German language classes, you must have been familiar with the following rule: Subject-Verb- Indirect object- direct object. So when describing some information in a single sentence, make sure that it is in the order TMP, which means Time Manner Place. So the “when” adverbs come first (time), followed by the “how” adverbs (manner), and then finally ending with the “where” adverbs (place).


German is not a difficult language to learn. It requires a proper understanding of how German grammar functions, along with a lot of practice. Now that you have these four tips by your side, you won’t have much of a problem taking control over the hardest part of German. So follow these tips and flaunt your compound German skills!

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